Summer–a time to relax and rejoice here in North Van as we fill our calendars with boats rides and outdoor movies. Let’s be honest though, Vancouverites are not really known for being blissfully content–in fact, we have a tendency to complain about pretty much everything. As such, while the summer truly is one of the best times to be in Vancouver, many of us opt to escape for a weekend or two.
Though I do love camping and road trips, my 2015 go-to has to be Los Angeles. Flights are cheap and relatively quick, and there’s never a lack of things to do!
Here’s my take on an ‘LA Local’ itinerary:
1) Find somewhere to relax and take in the view. Sure, you COULD hike up to the Hollywood sign, but why expend energy after a tiring flight if you could unwind in the zen garden at The Getty? The view of LA is amazing from up there, and this way you get to lounge on a grassy hill surrounded by flowers instead of tourists. There’s some pretty nifty art at this world renowned museum as well.
2) Test your nerve on the Drop of Doom. By this I mean, go to Six Flags Magic Mountain. While Disneyland and Universal have their charms, Six Flags is undoubtedly THE place to go if you want to get your adrenaline pumping. It’s cheaper than the aforementioned sites and a favourite for local thrill seekers. The line-ups can be pretty nuts, so if quantity is important, get the Flash Pass. Tip: Like most attractions in LA, this one will be MUCH less busy in the winter months. If you can swing it, plan your trip accordingly.
3) Ask around for the best brunch in town. I’m a breakfast person, so when I travel I always make sure to include some tasty morning eats on my itinerary. Lucky for me, LA is a foodie’s paradise. This past trip I hit up HOME in Los Feliz, which is an adorable patio-eatery with an abundance of personality, and some truly amazing salmon bennies.
4) Take in a festival. Google “What to do in LA today” and you’ll fins something to fit you fancy, guaranteed. From music fests to cat-com’s—yes, that is what it sounds like—LA’s got you covered. This past month featured an amazing event, Make Music Pasadena, which featured 150 concerts in one day within a 20 block neighbourhood.
5) Find the food trucks! While food trucks may not seem that exotic for the average Vancouverite, LA has some pretty great ones. One of my favourites is the CoolHaus Truck, which offers up a ‘choose-your-own’ gourmet Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich! Apparently these sandwiches are also sold in Whole Foods, but there’s something truly thrilling about carefully selecting your preferred flavour combo, that a box of pre-made treats just can’t compete with.
6) ROAD TRIP! Whether you’re craving white sand beaches or hefty burritos, the coastal region south of LA holds a plethora of day-trip options. This past trip I opted for San Diego, the birthplace of California. Just a couple hours in the car brings you to a beautiful region of the state; full of breathtaking vistas and fascinating history. Hit up Old Town San Diego for a glimpse of what life was like in Cali circa 1850. Make sure to catch some of the daily entertainment before downing a margarita and some authentic Mexican eats.
While in San Diego, stop by some of the coastal communities. The water isn’t necessarily warm, but the scenery is truly spectacular.
7) Reflect and Restore. Whenever I go to LA I end up having a packed itinerary, whether I opt for tourist-trap attractions or living local. A good way to relax before a flight home is to hit up a nice café and open a good book/iPad/whatever it is that you like to open. My favourite space to unwind in is a funky space in North Hollywood (a.k.a. NoHo—LoLo haters take note!) called Republic of Pie. This is a great spot for consuming tasty treats and getting in some last minute people watching.
While there are a zillion touristy places to visit in LA, take a moment to try the living local approach. Taste the flavours of the city and discover the hidden gems–there’s always something going on in this city that’s completely unique to the LA vibe, so why not explore?
Note: Reliable transportation and accommodations are key for keeping costs down and making your way around town. My advice: make an LA friend! The metro system is fairly well connected and runs on something like our Compass Card, except it actually works. If you are driving—which is the best way explore outside the city—remember that traffic is abysmal and drivers are aggressive as all heck.
Looking for flights? I find mine at Flight Hub. Round trip excursions roam around the $200-300 range, including tax. Be as flexible as possible with dates and avoid continually checking flights–most websites track how many times a flight is looked at and jack up the price accordingly.